Remembering Tom Walker and his generosity

Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 5:48 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - What do Jefferson County Hospice, Samaritan’s Cancer Treatment Center, and Zoo New York all have in common? All are what they are today thanks to Tom Walker, say the people who lead those organizations.

Walker died Tuesday at the age of 97.

Yes, he was a former Watertown mayor, but he was also a philanthropist.

“He was a very generous man and he did a lot for the community,” said Marsha Anderson, Walker’s former office manager.

Wednesday afternoon, Watertown’s Noon Rotary Club celebrated Walker’s life and contributions with a moment of silence.

Walker was a member of the club for more than 61 years.

“Both he and his late wife, Mabel, were pillars of the community who helped out in many capacities and it’ll be a large loss felt here at the Rotary Club,” said club president Jeremiah Papineau.

The lives of Tom and Mabel Walker are defined by a generosity that was far-reaching.

“He really wanted to make an impact and do good things. That’s what I’ll remember them for,” said Larry Sorel, CEO of Zoo New York.

At the forefront of Walker’s philanthropy was Hospice of Jefferson County. A founding member, board member, and tremendous supporter.

“Supporting what hospice does was really important to him and Mabel. It wasn’t just giving money for the building,” said Diana Woodhouse, CEO of Hospice of Jefferson County.

Another building bears his name. Samaritan’s Walker Center for Cancer Care. The Walkers lost two daughters to cancer and helped build the center.

“I think they wanted to leave the north country in a better place. I think they saw opportunities to improve services. They wanted to make certain those services were available to everybody,” said Thomas Carman, president and CEO of Samaritan Medical Center.

The generosity of a gentleman who will be missed by a community that he helped build as mayor and citizen.